When Praveen kickstarted his career at Chargebee, it was pretty much a one-man show. He was the only in-house product designer at the time and handled all the design requirements of a rapidly growing organization. It didn’t take too long before he’d set up a full-fledged design team with Product and Communication designers, Researchers, and Writers.
We caught up with him to talk about his favorite pastime and to find out if designing is his natural calling.
Okay, we heard you do some woodwork back at home. That’s really interesting!
Personally, I’ve always been a tinkerer. Always been curious about what goes inside an alarm clock, how it works, you know the typical engineering student. My entry into design was not the typical “I used to sketch and now I’m in design.” “I hate math, that’s why I’m in design.” I like both sketching and math, by the way.
Listening to “You made it come to life, it’s your piece” gives
me a feeling of satisfaction, you know, it’s like magic. This drew me to sketching, prototyping, and building things in my spare time. Talking about wood work in particular, I never approached it from a craftsman’s point of view. I’m more of a functional carpenter than someone who pays attention to aesthetics or decoration.
But how did you learn woodwork?
Youtube. (Laughs) It’s pretty much the source for everything.
Are there any mental rules you follow?
While I was building these pieces, I realised I have a very innate understanding of physics, structure, and few
concepts of gravity. There was this rare moment when I started building a planter without even having a plan. I knew I had to be very conscious about the load and weight. According to me, the mental rule that has to be followed is structural engineering, the weight bearing, and then comes the aesthetics.
So how do you start? Tell us about the homework that goes in.
I always start on paper by drawing different angles - be it Web design or UX design. This allows me to see what works and discard options that don’t. Post this, I move onto high-fidelity mockups like wireframes.
For my woodwork projects, it’s always 3D models. I use Sketchup for this. So it’s a step-wise process I follow to make things come to life.
How long do you usually spend on every assignment?
I rarely take up things that last more than a weekend. I normally go with one-day builds.
Any craftsmen/popular figures you follow on social media?
I’m also into gardening and farming a lot these days. So I follow Charles Dowding, an organic farmer, who has a method to grow vegetables, unlike others. It’s called the No-dig or No-till gardening method, where you don’t have to till and just allow nature to carry out the cultivation process.
I also follow Jake Parker, an illustrator. He is also the founder of Inktober.
What’s your latest project?
I’m working on building a diner’s bench. But it’s going to be L-Shaped for a circular table.
A business in the offing?
Yes, I do have a couple of ideas. (Smiling) I’m seriously considering becoming a farmer…I’m not even kidding. To be
honest, I am influenced by a lot of people, like Elon Musk. Sustainability seems like the most important problem to take into consideration and work on. We need more minds on problems that humanity faces. For example, I sure wouldn’t start a business that has anything to do with software. I would want to do something that directly impacts people… Take food for example…it’s a pressing problem. Someone has to take the first step and work on it.